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Goodhew: Launch of the research report Ultimit Benefit

Speech – New Zealand Government

Thank you for inviting me here this morning and your warm welcome. I am delighted to be here on this special occasion of the launch of the research report Ultimit Benefit: Women Trainees in the Electricity Supply Industry.Jo Goodhew

30 April, 2013

Launch of the research report Ultimit Benefit: Women Trainees in the Electricity Supply Industry

Tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou katoa.

Thank you for inviting me here this morning and your warm welcome. I am delighted to be here on this special occasion of the launch of the research report Ultimit Benefit: Women Trainees in the Electricity Supply Industry.

I acknowledge the nine women who embarked on this journey and the five women who have completed their tickets – what a journey and what an achievement.

When I read some of their comments and experiences in the report the hair stood up on the back of my neck. I am looking forward to meeting two of them, Aroha McLean and Robyn Dawes, later this morning and am very interested to hear their stories in person.

This would not have been possible without the vision of the ESITO board and representative – Doug Pouwhare, for undertaking this ground breaking project and for all of your efforts during this journey.

I also acknowledge the hard work and effort that Heather McDonald and Dr Rose Ryan from Heathrose Research, have put into this research over the last two years.

Finally, I would like to acknowledge the leadership of the companies, Northpower and Electrix, who took the first step to challenge the industry and begin to address staff shortages through a more diverse workplace. The high standing calibre of your companies is crucial in the continuation of this initiative. Other companies can learn from you and model the leadership and spirit you have shown.

What tenacity these women have shown and such strength in negotiating this new territory for women. Most importantly these women have helped pave the way for other women, too, to experience the benefits of working in the electricity supply industry.

The Government is committed to building sustained economic growth through a skilled and responsive labour market. We recognise that we need to increase the level of skills available and the diversity of the workplace, and we need to make the most of our current and future female workforce.

This journey has been one of discovery for everybody – learning how to integrate women into a place where historically they have been one of a few. These women have shown skill and shown their value to the companies they have worked for, their attitude towards health and safety practices a particular asset.

I was pleased to be part of and speak at the launch of your ‘Ultimit’ brand in August last year at Te Papa. I was particularly interested because it addressed one of the initial findings from the research project; that young women did not respond to advertisements for trade training in the electricity industry because they thought advertisements were seeking applications from young men only.

I congratulate the twelve electric supply companies from ESITO for their foresight in committing funding for a project co-ordinator to work on creating the ‘Ultimit’ brand for the industry. It is good to see that Ultimit is a long-term commitment by ESITO to encourage young women into your industry.

This initiative is working. I have been informed that since the inception of the Women in Power initiative, the numbers of women trade trainees in the industry has increased from five in 2008, to 37 women trade trainees in 2013.

This is testament to the hard work of everybody involved in this project, including the mentoring and supervision that helped the women to succeed.

The research has affirmed the success and benefit of the cohort model and I am pleased to hear that new cohorts of female apprentices will be established around the country. We know about the benefits of diversity and its positive impact on productivity across a range of employment and leadership sectors.

This is a wonderful opportunity to spread the word about women’s roles in trades where there is so much room for women to add value.

Part of the focus of the work of the Ministry of Women’s Affairs, is to look at what works to encourage women to consider and take up non-traditional careers, especially in occupations and in regions where there is demand – in the Canterbury re-build for example.

In order to get more women in areas where they have not explored before, we need more people on board in other industries too. We need those who would make it difficult for women to enter those trades to understand that all available skills need to put to good use to help continue our recovery from the effects of the Global Financial Crisis and the Canterbury earthquakes. And that this will benefit the individuals, their families, the companies and New Zealand. In other words – and let’s not be too PC about it – they should get over their reluctance to encounter women at work and simply focus on them as workmates to get the job done!

There are opportunities for New Zealand to address skills shortages in the labour market by encouraging more young women into the electricity industry occupations.

Together we can embrace this opportunity and make the electricity supply industry a model for others.

Nō reira, tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou katoa.


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